Saturday, May 30, 2009

Damn you, Wii

Why you gotta go disc read error on me when I'm about to finish defending my title belt in "Punch Out!!" And why wait until you're out of warranty to give up the ghost, so as to cost me $75? You're a cruel, cold-hearted machine.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

First book signing scheduled!

4:30 p.m. Sept. 29 at the University of Arizona bookstore. You know you want to be there.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Swan song

I won second place in the Arizona Press Club's film, video and television criticism category. Would have been nice to have gone out on top but there's some charm in a Cardinals-style near-miss, right?

Full disclosure: only six people entered. I'm exiting a game of movie critical musical chairs here, and we've run fresh out of chairs.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ah, my first review!

Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets by Phil Villarreal

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is phenomenal. It will save you money, make you laugh and answer all your hopes and prayers. Try and read it every day for the rest of your life.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I'm annoyed

At how Youtube embeds on fresh posts block out links to my book's Amazon site. Ugh.






to un-block the link until I can figure out a better way to handle this.

Rudo Y Cursi

Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna are sort of a modern Mexican version of Laurel and Hardy. Working together again in a sibling rivalry soccer movie for the first time since they met in the seminal Y Tu Mama Tambien, the guys prove once again to be a formidable comic team. Never mind that neither of their collaborations are true comedies. What makes both films work (although I'm hesitant to lump the movies together because Y Tu Mama is in a class far above this one) is the subtle humor that underscores the tense drama.

The tough, tense stuff simply wouldn't work if Bernal and Luna weren't as good as they are at playing off of one another's comic cues to set up scores of humiliating gags. The actors' chemistry lifts what might have been an average sports melodrama to something near special.

Bernal is Tato, an easygoing striker who fashions himself a night club singer, while Bernal is Tato's high-strung brother Beto, a mustachioed goalie who resents the success of anyone around him, especially Tato. Early on a scout happens by the brothers on a southern Mexico soccer pitch and tells them he can take only one of them with him to a pro tryout up north. It's a testament to Beto (nicknamed Rudo for his rudeness) is willing to wage his future on a single penalty shot, given the inherent advantage of the shooter in the situation. Beto tries to tell his suggestion-prone brother to kick it to the right so he can block it, but the brothers cross signals, Tato scores the goal, and he's on to the big leagues.

It's when Tato rises to fame, earning the nickname Cursi for his flowery, elegant play, that the movie takes on its true spirit, reminding me of the joyous, nobodies-make-good in the early episodes of Entourage. He eventually pulls Beto into the fold, and the brothers wind up living together in an overpriced house, playing for rival squads that you just know will end up meeting in the climactic scene with everything on the line.

The first two thirds of the film are spectacular but the ending is disgustingly contrived - just too cute and telescoped - and leaves you with a sour taste in your mouth. But there are enough thrills and laughs here to justify the price of admission.

Saturday, May 09, 2009


Ah, Zooey Deschanel. The ultimate Manic Pixie Dream Girl, who plays pretty much the same character in every movie and TV show she comes across. She's always slightly aloof, struggling with inner turmoil, falling for sad sack losers and inspiring them to greater heights, then hurling herself into self-caused turmoil in order to be redeemed by her faceless beau.

The indie spinner Gigantic holds form. This time her character has the ultimate Manic Pixie Dream Girl name, Harriet "Happy" Lolly. She meets her man-slave du jour, a mattress salesman named Brian (Paul Dano), by wandering into his shop and falling asleep on one of his beds. She's there to pay for merchandise bought by her dad, Al (John Goodman, playing just as awesome a racist windbag as he did in The Big Lebowski).

Brian is pretty much a directionless loser who saves himself by falling for Happy. His screenwriter-device quirks are that he's obsessed with adopting a Chinese baby and has a tendency to be randomly attacked, whether it be by homeless guys on the street or randomly shot at, Dick Cheney style, on a hunting trip.

Gigantic is ultra-emo but sort of funny, and it's got Zooey, so that should give you enough evidence about whether or not you need to see this. The answer, of course, is that you do, because Happy would be sad if you didn't want to see her story. And you wouldn't like a Manic Pixie Dream Girl when she's angry.

This is now my movie review blog

Now that I've been reassigned and am no longer an official movie critic, I'll be going rogue, with reviews to come on everything I see on this site. I won't be so quick on the new releases anymore, and will probably spend most of my time reviewing movies that have just come out on DVD, or movies that have been on DVD forever but are suddenly new to me. First up: "Gigantic," a movie opening at the Loft in a couple weeks.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Horn or whistle? You decide

A car horn honks as Luke and I are on the way to pick up Papa John's for Jessica's 30th birthday party.

Luke: "What was that?"

Me: "A horn."

Luke: "That's not a horn, silly!"

Me: "Then what was it?"

Luke: "A whistle, silly."

Me: "Huh."

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Bread cheers

I'd never considered toasting bread loaves, but Luke decided it was a natural way to celebrate a meal. Today at lunch he picked up a piece of bread, shoved it in front of my face and said "cheers," waiting for me to reciprocate. It felt surprisingly natura.

I now see the trend of touching pieces of bread to those of dinner partners spreading across the globe.